The first time I set my nature camera trap was under an apple tree. Eyeballing wildlife secretly at lens-length is full of surprises.
Love island in a hedge
When I found a pair of long-tailed tits building their nest in a thorny hedge, they performed for series after series of #hedgegoggle. Viewers could not get enough of them. Cocky little birds, they would take spider webs donated from my un-swept office and sheep wool proffered nearby.
Into the woods
A startling a bird as any, but with less of a connection to non-birders. I was lucky to find a pied flycatcher nesting in a hole of a climbable rowan tree on a steep sloped wood. The showy nature of the male was hilarious. No wonder he attracted a jay to the door of their precious chicks during the #pieflycam series. The female was less impressed.
Blue steel look
It’s a warblers world
The intimacy of when a camera goes in close can be riveting. This chiffchaff family gave wonderful tips on housekeeping in #warblersworld. No feathers nearby and smart removal of poo, please! The visitation of a vole once the chicks had fledged was an interesting observation. Was a so-called veggy rodent ‘hunting’ for unused protein, alive or dead?
The blackcap nests #warblersworld nests were haphazard. On tree guards, in annual fragile cleavers. This male was most adept at swallowing the ‘goods’ (i.e. faecal sac). A garden warbler made a one-off appearance.
The chiffchaff then returned for a second brood right next to our house. Trusting, setting a mutual bond: ‘I’ll let you in close in return for keeping away predators’.
Talking of beak, tooth and claw (link to my review of Mary Colwell’s book), I sometimes fear setting up a camera on ground-nesting birds might attract unwanted visitors. Especially after dark. Certainly if ever visiting a nest, I would never have a dog near it; as other members of the canid family love a nocturnal follow-up call.
I never thought placing the camera in a damp wood would be rewarded with a woodcock. No footage – just a still. We need way more data on this crepuscular cryptic woodland wader – from the million odd overwintering birds, to the summer squeaking roding pairs over thick conifer woods.
Out here in deep countryside, there’s always something dying or dead. When circa 25 ravens descended on a freshly dead sheep hung up in a fence, I was ready. A great chance to film an unkindness of scavenger-efficient corvids close up! What happened? The smart birds stayed away, a dumb raptor feasted, to be followed by wary fox under darkness. #Carrioncam, with its raw clinical views, has its followers.
As a side bar, I imagine govt agencies, like Natural England, might require footage as evidence before issuing licences to “to allow the disturbance or control of certain species to manage human-wildlife conflicts.” Whether for wildlife conservation, livelihood or livestock welfare.
This family of wrens were full on action. It seemed like only minutes before food kept appearing, insects ripped up, waste removal, parents arguing, kids demanding – the energy was almost exhausting while watching #wreninaden.
Discovering a tree pipit nest was a special find on the bracken covered hill behind our house. The LBJ (little brown job), so drab to look at but wonderful songster as it parachutes earthward. I mismanaged setting the camera too close at the start, which resulted in tantalisingly detailed but blurred films. More to come from #pipitcam over summer 2021.
Dipper in stone
In the early seventies we lived in western Scotland. Aged 8, I built a hide from stones on the shore of Long Long to watch a dipper at close quarters diving and wading in a stream running into the sea loch. Now 45 years on, tech now allows me to dip into nature with all its quirky and often unseen glories. (this is the camera – detached viewer is key)
Have fun, as this onion-loving vole inside our pantry did….